Do Reciprocal Links Help or Hurt Your SEO?

Link acquisition is one of the most common marketing tactics. This resource was very popular in the early 2000s but its popularity decreased over time. However, reciprocal links are a natural byproduct of running a website. It’s important to understand the way reciprocal links appear on sites today compared to the past. Fostering relationships through authentic outreach without expecting favors in return is a great and natural way to increase your reciprocal links. Although reciprocal links are still common, our SEO agency is here to address whether reciprocal links help or hurt your SEO.

What Are Reciprocal Links?

Before we dive deeper into whether reciprocal links help or hurt your SEO, let’s discuss what reciprocal links even are. A reciprocal link is essentially a pair of links between two sites that are linking to one another. This is sometimes also known as exchanging or trading links. In simple terms, you are asking another site if they are willing to link to your site if you link back to theirs. For example, if you are a moving company, an excellent reciprocal link could be with a real estate agent. While you don’t want to link back to other people in your field who may appear as competition, you can connect with strong and relevant companies.

How to Use Reciprocal Links to Help SEO

The main goal of reciprocal links is to grow your authority and rankings while reducing the risk of penalties from search engines. Above all, you should make sure your link building methods are enhancing the overall experience for your customers. Forget focusing on your rankings on SERPs and more so on adding value for your readers and customers through high-quality content.

According to our digital marketing team, if you are going to request a link back, make sure you are checking the metrics of the site to ensure you are exchanging with a high-authority website. When you link to high-value content, you establish trust and authority among your own site. Consider it a bonus if the site reciprocates the link.

Before you pursue link acquisition, here are a few things to consider:

  • Can this site improve my site’s traffic?
  • Does this site produce relevant, high-quality content related to my niche?
  • Is this company a direct competition for my brand?


How Links Can Hurt Your SEO

While there are many benefits of link building, there are also a few ways links can hurt your SEO. If you don’t use your best judgment when exchanging links, you can, in fact, hurt your site’s authority and rankings. Here are a few ways links can hurt your SEO:

  1. Site Penalization

In Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, reciprocal links are a massive penalty. Abusing backlink is viewed as manipulating search results through link exchange. Your site will be facing a considerable risk of being penalized.

  1. Impact Site Authority and Rankings

Your authority and rankings will drastically decrease if you are linking to external sites that are irrelevant to your content. To avoid this, check the site’s ranking and content to make sure it’s relevant to your business. It’s sometimes okay to link back to low-authority sites, but it will not improve your own site’s authority.

  1. Boosting Your Competition

If you are linking to your competition, you are only boosting their SEO instead of your own. If you link to a site that has the same keywords as you, your chances of having a link reciprocated are slim to none. Link exchanges should be between similar content and industries but not direct competition.


You should now feel more comfortable understanding how reciprocal links help or hurt your SEO. If you are still stuck and need assistance with digital marketing concepts, contact us today. Let our team help you with your digital marketing efforts.


Related Reading

Search Engine Journal – Reciprocal Links: Do They Help or Hurt Your SEO?